THE CLEVELAND PRESS
THE SHELBY PUBLISHING COMPANY
Friday, November 2, 1928
C. J. Mabry ….. President
J. Nelson Callahan ….. Business Manager
W. J. Cash ….. Managing Editor
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Site Editor's Note: John W. Davis, quoted in this article, was the 1924 compromise Democratic nominee for President who lost badly to Calvin Coolidge, incumbent by the death of Warren Harding in 1923. At the Democratic convention of 1924, a two-week deadlock occurred between the contingent desiring Al Smith and those for William McAdoo, also a candidate at the convention in 1928. The compromise of the two camps produced Davis.
And in reading Cash's take on the compassionate Judge Webb, we are reminded again of how little things change in 70 years. Those Draconian "law and order" judges we incessantly see paraded before us by the scions of corporate monotony and lock-step uniformity, i.e. television "investigative" "journalists", and played to us as if these Machiavellian hard-nosed horse-whippers were the Great Noble Scholars of the legal profession, might be served in their "scholarship" to read and contemplate this Cash article well and skip some of their own press clippings on their wannabe way to higher office. We now have heard of a county prosecutor in North Carolina who wants to publish the conviction rates for judges in the local newspaper so as to whip up public support to can the too-lenient jurists of that county. Oh, woe are we.
When will such politicians learn that being a lawyer and a public prosecutor means serving the ends of justice, not just us, as much as does the role of defense counsel and judge?
And when will some judges learn that when you sit in a courtroom, it is not "my courtroom" as some of the tougher ones are want to say, but our courtroom, the public's--but what goes on in that courtroom is the result of our having entrusted to the education, skill and training of that jurist the responsibility to fairly interpret the law and apply it blindly, yet with due regard to the circumstances of each case and each defendant when time for sentencing is at hand?
But moreover, when will the public at large learn that the cornflakes sellers on television are just part of a Barnum-Bailey parade, have little or no training in the vast fields of knowledge they are most likely to pop off about, and certainly should not be the great formers of the public weal, or the "Booboisie", as H. L. Mencken liked to call it? The selected terrible cases we hear about are the exception and not the rule, else we would not hear about them. That is, when will we look out our own doors and realize that the streets are rarely truly battle zones--on rare occasions in certain neighborhoods, yes. But why is that? Whose fault? Too lenient laws and judges or too lenient parents?
And when will we learn that, though, yes, we have great compassion for the victims of crime, especially violent crime, and sometimes it makes us mad and sad, we don't go out and change a whole host of laws every time some crazy fool does something crazy and foolish, no matter how sympathetic the victim. We are all victims, to some degree or another--including, many times, the criminal, before he or she ever became one. If we change the law to make it tougher every time we are presented with a particularly hard case, that slowly does violence to our democratic tradition, two hundred years of entrenched precedent and five hundred years of English common law preceding it--all forming the very foundation of the democracy. And if we erode it one brick at a time with new and tougher laws in reaction to each fool, then ultimately that reaction places the fool--the worst of the criminal lot--in charge of making the law, does it not? And encourages the next fool to trump that new law, the game hardened criminals often like best anyway, being socio-pathic--to get another more Goose-stepping law on the books in honor of their Great Criminal conduct. Who is served by that? Society or the criminal laughing at us for being so stupid as to serve him or her the dinner he or she most wanted--a healthy dose of Goosestepping by which all society will be further enshackled?
And as to Draconian punishment, do we ever once stop and consider the potential victim, not just the present one, when sending away this or that reprobate for long stays in jail with other reprobates, when that reprobate will inevitably one day come out again? Since when did we give up on rehabilitation, even if it only shows noticeable results in one of a hundred cases, and become a strictly punitive society? But that's the way many states' penal codes are now written--California's being one, for example. The purpose of prison is to punish, not rehabilitation. That's what it says. We have some nice "law and order" pols from the late 1960's and early 1970's to thank for that one.
That enunciated policy sets the stage for the legislature to fund or not programs within the jails. Next time you are accosted on the street by some fellow just out on parole from a similar charge for which he served three years, think about that lack of rehabilitation going on rather than how we can change the law to make the sentences yet tougher because you, you of all people, were victimized--until we have prisons on every street corner in the country full of three-strikes-out fellows who robbed once, twice, and maybe then stole a bicycle to take a ride somewhere--grand theft, third--life. (It has happened that way, incidentally, though in one case at least the victim of the theft honorably refused to prosecute the third strike and in another a judge honorably refused to impose the third strike on less than a violent felony.)
The day will come if we continue on the path we are on that we will resemble that nightmarish place in Europe in the 1930's more than our democracy. They were merely a country of ordinary people gone mad with attempting human perfection and uniformity, after all, not fantastical demons. If one listens too much to corporate-sponsored television, both its "journalism" shows and its pure fantasy, one would think that creeping behind every bush in your quiet neighborhood is a lurking criminal ready to pounce--but for some stern judge, a well-armed police force, and "tough" laws written by tough politicians--hogwash. Take a walk around the block and think positively. The odds of falling in the bathtub and breaking one's neck are greater than being victimized by crime. Yet, we haven't heard loud calls and demonstrations for safer tubs with rubber sides.
And thinking suspiciously en masse often breeds a terrible reality from the wisps of fantasy. It's they who are the problem, never us. No one likes accusatory looks or questions. No one likes to be stopped and questioned by police for no reason other than the color of their skin, the length of their hair, or that "they just don't look right" to him or her. Perpend: Good, tough, preventive law enforcement or harming somewhere down the line a potential victim of that unfairly harassed citizen doing nothing and contemplating nothing until his or her psychological state of equanimity and/or reputation is ruined by unfounded and unrighteous suspicion? And the more callow the suspect, the more likely the aberrant reaction. Is not the fomentor of such a concatenation of suspicion, half-truths, and illogic the first "criminal" in the chain to that potential victim and equally a socio-path to the initially innocent object of suspicion now turned at the other end down the line finally to breaking the statute? In some places, that would be called aiding and abetting criminal conduct. Maybe, that's the set of laws--slander, false accusation, casting in an unfairly suspicious light, i.e. giving of a false police report--we ought make somewhat tougher and prosecute more vigorously. Then perhaps, all of us, the potential victims, can feel safe.
Hoover's opportunity for leadership is "being squandered in platitudes and pusillanimity." Nope, that isn't a wild Democratic orator speaking. It's the arch conservative of conservatives.--The London Times.
It is interesting to observe that with betting odds five to one in favor of Hoover, takers are not lacking. Betting commissioners predict that the odds will fall to three to one before election day. Which, as guesses go, would make Al's chance just twice as good as Wilson's in 1916.
WHO KILLED COCK ROBIN?
Al Smith says Prohibition is the issue. Joe Daniels says it isn't. Borah says it is. Charlie Hughes says it isn't. The curious thing is that all of the gentlemen are probably quite honest.
That is probably quite clear to Frank McNinch, the Gendarme-General of the Pure, but the McNinch didn't admit it--never in this world. He's too busy playing up hats.
SCORE ONE FOR AL
Mr. Kellogg, the old gentleman whose business in life is hunting Bolsheviks with a microscope, breaks the glad tidings to a waiting people that Mr. Hoover is the only man who may safely be charged with carrying on the wonderful Coolidge policy. Meaning, of course, that Mr. Hoover is the only man who will continue the dynasty of Santa Claus from Pittsburgh.
We know of no one who has advanced a better reason for voting for Al.
John W. Davis speaking at New York:
"This is a time when every man and woman should be willing to stand up and be counted for or against the principles of liberty on which this nation was founded, principles which have made her great and strong and free; exalted and happy at home and respected abroad.
"I denounce the assertion that a Catholic is disqualified for the Presidency as an insult to 18,000,000 of free-born Americans; I denounce it as a falsification of American history, a betrayal of American ideals, a deep disloyalty to American institutions."
HOOVER'S FOREIGN POLICY
Al Smith, in his speech in Baltimore, struck a true note when he pointed out that Herbert Hoover may not safely be trusted with the framing of a foreign policy for the United States. Perhaps, that should be qualified. Mr. Hoover is emphatically qualified to frame such a policy--if one considers it from the point of view of those interests which are bent upon reducing the weak powers of the earth to the position of commercial vassals of this country. There is for example the case of Liberia. Raymond Buell, former professor of History at Harvard and now connected with the League of Nations, has officially reported to the League that the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company has obtained concessions in the Negro republic which inevitably involve the reduction of the country to a commercial appendage of the corporation and of the people to serfdom. Herbert Hoover, according to the report, is involved as one of the principals in the concession.
Clearly, then, Herbert Hoover is unfit to formulate a foreign policy--if one looks at the matter from the standpoint of all the average fathers and mothers of the land who may be called on to give their sons as cannon-fodder to make safe such concessions for the Hoovers and the Firestones of the earth.
CAL AND A PROPHECY
Calvin Coolidge opens his mouth and observes that he doesn't look for prosperity to be upset by the election. Now, immediately, the Republican brothers rush to arms and say that what the Good Cal means is that he's sure that Mr. 'oover is going to be President. But we remember that these same good Republicans bawled last year that "I don't choose" meant that the President was perfectly willing to run again, and that he only intended to say that he wouldn't bother to seek the nomination. We remember that these gentlemen came to grief at Kansas City.
Therefore, we assume that the cautious Vermonter meant just what he said. That, of course, would be merely common honesty. Coolidge, whatever his lack, has sufficient wit to understand that the story that the Republican Party has a monopoly on prosperity is merely so much hokum calculated to garner the votes of boobs. But the doctrine has been so assiduously preached during the last two months by Herb Hoover and his mouth-pieces that there was actually danger of upsetting confidence in the country. Calvin does well to lay that ghost. The so-called Prosperity is not so prosperous, as some millions of empty-pockets can testify. But, such as it is, it is no danger. What is more, no Democratic administration ever brought hard times. The off-pointed-to second administration of Cleveland did not deserve the blame for the panic which marked it, according to Dr. Frederick Paxson of Wisconsin University, in his "Recent History of the United States." Instead, the panic was inherited from the administration of Cleveland's Republican predecessor. Economic conditions, not Presidents or tariffs, destroy prosperity.
A WISE DECISION
A youth is brought before Judge James L. Webb charged with writing a bad check. The Judge ponders the age of the defendant and suspends sentence, with a warning. An eminently wise and humane decision, we think.
A dozen Superior Court jurists, a hundred lesser lights of this State, would have descended in solemn wrath upon the youth and ordered him off to the chain-gang--that barbarous disgrace to North Carolina--pronto. And for his pains, the State would have exchanged a foolish, reckless boy for a hardened criminal, thoroughly anti-social. Young judges, new judges, bent upon making reputations for themselves, too often seek to play Cato, hewing to the letter of the law, dealing down years as though they were days, and--making sworn enemies of society. Long service on the bench breeds mellowness--and humanity.
Powerful forces in this country seek just now to turn us back to old, out-worn forms of punishment, to the whipping post, to long jail terms, to the extension of the death penalty--to the rack, the wheel, the thumb screw, the "Scavenger's Daughter," we gather. That is stupid. In the first place, according to recent authorities, the crime wave in this country has been vastly over-rated. Outside of violations of the Prohibition laws, the proportion of crime seems actually to have fallen, save in a few areas. It is nonsense to prate that England has only so many murders in a year while this country had 20 times as many, without recalling that the population of the United States is continually shifting, that the population of England is a static one. The problem of eliminating the criminal is essentially one of changing his social environment. In England it is easy to get at the "disease spots." In America, that is more difficult.
Finally, bad laws are to blame for much of our so-called crime. Bad laws make criminals of men who otherwise might have been useful citizens. So also do the fierce rule-of-thumb judges. An understanding of the aim of law is essential to the making of a judge. And discrimination enough to see that the aim, not the provisions, of any law is the essential thing. Above all, we think, no judge is qualified who lacks a humane heart. It is no accident that Judge Webb has the high favor of the body of daily newspapermen of the State, certainly a group which cannot be charged with undue sentimentality.
Frank McNinch, self-appointed spokesman for God, has been charging up and down the State for the past three months proclaiming that Al Smith proposes to let down the immigration bars to Southern Europe and quoting figures to show how enormously Southern Italy would benefit by changing the quota basis from the census of 1890 to 1920.
It develops now that the law passed in May, 1924 provided that quotas should be three percent of any immigrant group in the country at the time of the census in 1890 until July 1, 1927. After that the quotas were to be two percent of the totals of all national groups in the whole population of the United States. One has only to pause for a moment to remember that the great part of the total population of the United States is English-speaking in its origin--English, Scotch, and Irish. Mr. Herbert Hoover, as Secretary of Commerce with the Immigration Bureau under his control, has refused to put the last provision of the law into force. As a result, Mr. Herbert Hoover has allowed only 65,000 English-speaking immigrants to enter the country in the fiscal year 1927-28 when 91,000 should have been admitted. Moreover, Mr. Herbert Hoover admitted 19,000 more immigrants in the same year than the 150,000 limit provided by the law. What Smith has urged, what Smith has been heartily cursed for urging, is already the law! But Mr. Herbert Hoover has ignored it.
What we should like to know now is whether or not Mr. Frank McNinch, of the Holy Cause, has read the law? What we should like to know, again, is what Mr. Frank McNinch, of the Quest of the Holy Grail, has been doing misrepresenting the statements of Mark Sullivan? What we should like to know, once more, is this: did Mr. McNinch, the Peter of the New Crusade, get his fine figures in regard to immigration from Senator Simmons or the Ku Klux Klan?
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